'Heartbreaking' finish for Funk

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:32 AM ET

There's nothing better in golf than a miracle shot.

Unless, of course, you're on the wrong end of the miracle.

Then there's nothing worse than watching your opponent's hack from the knee-deep weeds bank off a tree, ricochet off a green side rake, roll to the lip and get blown into the cup by a sudden gust of wind.

The Hail Marys that sunk Andrew Funk yesterday at the U.S. Amateur weren't quite so dramatic, but when the other guy rolls in four prayers to knock you out, it stings.

"He had two eagles, a chip in and he hit the pin," chuckled Funk, who lost his match to Australia's Matt Smith 4 and 3 at Southern Hills. "Four miracle shots. I think if we had another match I'd beat him, but in the match today he beat me fair and square.

"It was heartbreaking, but I can accept it. I'm only 20 years old, it's not like it's my last chance."

The U.S. Amateur format consists of two rounds of stroke play, after which they cut the field of 310 down to the top 64, followed by four days of singles match play, which cuts the field to 32, 16, eight, four, two and the eventual champion. Once you've made the cut, all it takes is six wins to hoist the same trophy that Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods once held.

"It's just one guy. All you have to beat is one guy each time," said Funk. "That's what makes it so easy and that's what makes it so difficult."

Especially when the gods seem conspired against you.

"The turning point was No. 9," said Funk. "He hit an awful tee shot, an awful second shot and was past the pin long. He had a long chip coming down the hill and there was no way he could have kept it on the green no matter what. His only hope was to hit the pin ... and he hit the pin. Stopped half a foot from the hole. You could have dropped a thousand balls there and only done that once, and he did it.

"On 13 I was in there three feet for birdie and he makes a 40-footer for eagle. On the next hole I have a short par putt and he chips in from off the green for birdie."

Still, just making it through the sectional qualifier and then finishing T20 after stroke play (the top Canadian) is a major accomplishment.

"It was a good experience. After the first round being tied for 10th I was really happy.

"To shoot 71 at Southern Hills in the wind was a really good round. Then I was just trying not to make too many mistakes in the second round so I could make the cut and get into match play. I'm pretty proud of that. Tied for 20th out of 6,500 applicants is a pretty big accomplishment for my first year playing in it. It was unlike anything I've ever played in terms of the difficulty and the strategy involved and it's just going to make me a better player in the future."

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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